The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.19

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.19
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   It clearly is an exaggeration, but you left it out because
        of space reasons, or was there some other reason why it
        got left out?
   A.   It was not a matter of left out, it is a decision of
        putting something in.  I had said in the original working
        draft that there were many exaggerations and I felt we had
        better be specific about what they were.
   Q.   Then over the page, my Lord, page 51 of the new version,
        with bold face on the third line, you say: "Approximately
        750 Jews were driven into each of four gas chambers,
        measuring 5 metres by 5 metres each."  Is that a

.          P-168

        reasonable kind of estimate of the number of people?  Why
        did you leave out the phrase "measuring by 5 by 5 metres
        each or apiece"?
   A.   As I said, it was question of putting it in when I felt
        I had to be more specific about what I meant in terms of
        Gerstein's exaggerations.
   Q.   Would it be perverse to believe that, if that measurement,
        the dimensions had been left in, that would have
tended to
        undermine the credibility of that sentence?
   A.   Well, given that later I have 200 Jews per gas chamber
        in another the 750 figure was already considerably out
        line with other stuff that I put, I make clear in this
        from beginning to end that there are exaggerations and
        that Gerstein does exaggerate.
   Q.   But he does not exaggerate just on an amateur scale,
        he?  He exaggerates on a Munchhausen scale.
   A.   There are some extraordinary exaggerations, yes.
   Q.   Can I draw your attention to the next paragraph,
        This is one you left in, I believe?
   A.   This was there.
   Q.   "The following day Gerstein drove to Treblinka where
        gassing facilities were larger and he saw, you quote,
        veritable mounds of clothing and underwear 115 to 130
   A.   Yes, which I would suggest was that I was putting in
        already in the first draft considerable materials that

.          P-169

        were demonstrating my conclusion that much of his
        was exaggerated.  I added further material.  Certainly
        the working draft there was no attempt to hide that
   Q.   But would you agree ----
   A.   You suggest that there was some sort of cover up or
        sinister attempt to sanitize Gerstein, I do not think
        is borne out by looking at either first and second
   Q.   I am not trying to suggest that you tried to cover up
        sanitize, but merely to make passages you wanted to
        on seem more plausible.  I put it to you that, if you
        left these passages in, it would have totally
        the veracity of this witness, and no responsible
        would have dreamed of using Gerstein as a source.
   A.   They are in, and I use him, and others have used him,
        we use him with caution.
   Q.   They are in now, of course, because you subsequently
        amended your report to include them.
   A.   Well, "amend" is not the right word.  As I have said,
        was a mistake by Mishcon de Reya to have turned over
        was not the final draft.
   Q.   In other words, in your first draft?
   A.   Do you write one book in one sitting, or do you revise
        things as you go, and do you reflect about what you
        writing?  I have things in a number of drafts.
   Q.   I quote Mr Rampton and say you are not allowed to ask
        questions.  I am the one who asks the questions.

.          P-170

   A.   Then let me phrase it this way.  I write in many
        I would expect any careful author would write a number
        drafts, the second and third drafts would not be
        identical, or one would not write numerous drafts.
   Q.   Out of your own mouth, Professor, you are condemning
        yourself.  That implies that in your first draft you
        to leave all these passages out, and only later did
        decide to put them back in again for whatever reason.
   A.   It is not a matter of having decided to leave out, I
        constructing it.  I said in the initial draft there
        many exaggerations.  Looking at it, I said let us
        that out more clearly.
   Q.   Does it not indicate in fact, if you read these
        exaggerations by Gerstein, that he was a man with a
        severely disordered mind, which finally crashed when
        committed suicide in prison?
   A.   I think he was a man that was utter traumatised and
   Q.   Yes.  In other words, totally unreliable and
        and it was responsible to base an important piece of
        history just on the eyewitness testimony of this man
        because -- is there any other eyewitness testimony of
        equal colour?
   A.   Two things wrong.  To say he is unstable is not
        to saying unreliable.  To say that it is the only
        testimony is false because we have lots of other

.          P-171

   Q.   Are you referring to Pfannenstiel?
   A.   We certainly are.
   Q.   Are you referring to what Gerstein is alleged to have
        to a Swedish diplomat?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   When did this conversation with a Swedish diplomat
   A.   August 21, 22, coming back from Warsaw.
   Q.   In 1942?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   What date is the Swedish diplomatic memorandum on that
        conversation?  Was it contemporary or was it written
   A.   The one that is in the file of the Swedish Foreign
        was written after the war.
   Q.   Three years later.  Was there any opportunity for that
        Swedish Foreign Office gentlemen to have cross-
        his knowledge with what he had read in the Allied and
        Swedish newspapers about what had been discovered?
   A.   I have no idea on that.
   Q.   No, but you agree that, if this Swedish diplomat had
        written a contemporary memorandum dated August 1942,
        would have very strong evidentiary value?
   A.   That would have been much stronger.
   Q.   Something written after the war in 1945, for various

.          P-172

        reasons, is less dependable?
   A.   It is evidence of less strength than one written at
   Q.   Why did this man Pfannenstiel accompany Gerstein on
        visits to these extermination camps?
   A.   I do not know why he went.
   Q.   What was his position?
   A.   He was a Professor.
   Q.   Was he a Professor at the Institute of Hygiene in
        Yes, not in Berlin, Mabuch on the Lan.
   Q.   And why did he accompany Gerstein?
   A.   I do not know.
   Q.   Was that the kind of position where a Professor would
        accompany an SS officer in connection with controlling
   A.   It could well be that he would be invited along as an
        expert or someone who wanted to learn, or that the SS
        trying to bring in, I do not know.  There are a number
        possible explanations.
   Q.   Pfannenstiel, of course, after the war, am I right,
        testified broadly in accordance with what Gerstein had
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   He confirmed that he had seen these things happening?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   What did Gerstein testify that he had seen happening

.          P-173

        two or three sentences?  He had seen gassings?
   A.   Gerstein testified that he went to both Belzec and
        Treblinka and saw gassings at each.  I am not sure --
        I think he said he saw them at each.  Pfannenstiel
        that he only went to Belzec, that he did not go to
        Treblinka, it could well be that Gerstein went on and
        did not.  Pfannenstiel only confirms being with
        in Belzec and seeing the Belzec gassing.
   Q.   Take these two people separately.  Gerstein went to
        two camps, carrying with him a hundred kilograms of
        or some fumigating agent and his story is that, after
        had delivered the goods, which was for fumigation of
        clothing -- and he himself states that am I right?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   That the local SS people then gave him a treat and let
        watch a gassing on the following day.  Is that
        in your view?
   A.   Well, I think they said they did some of the work in
        Lublin and then they took him up, and of course, by
        account, he had gotten into the SS to find out what he
        could.  So he would have taken this opportunity.
   Q.   Is there any reason why they should have shown him
        something that was top secret?
   A.   To people in Lublin this was not top secret, and he
was a
        member of the SS.
   Q.   What about Pfannenstiel?  Why should they have shown

.          P-174

        this Professor of Hygiene one of the most secret and
        deadly operations going on, namely the Final Solution
        operation?  Why should they have done that?
   A.   I do not know why they should have done that.
   Q.   Can you think of any reason why Pfannenstiel,
        in a West German court after the war, would have said
        he had seen these things?
   A.   It led to a lot more interrogations.  If he had denied
        entirely, I think nothing would have happened, and,
        he said this, nothing happened either, because
        it was not committing a crime.
   Q.   You are absolutely right.  Witnessing was not
committing a
        crime and Mr Gerstein, was he still alive at that
   A.   No.
   Q.   He was dead.  So, by saying that Gerstein had
witnessed it
        and was involved bringing Zyklon and so on, that did
        hurt Gerstein either, did it?
   A.   Gerstein was dead.
   Q.   There was no skin off Pfannenstiel's nose to accept
        whatever was put to him?
   A.   I think it led to a series of interrogations and, if
        had not happened, he would have said it.  He had no
        to incriminate, not incriminate but to involve himself
        supporting Gerstein's account if it had not occurred.
        me, it would have been much more likely that he would,
        even if it happened, have denied it than vice versa.

.          P-175

   Q.   Surely, if he had denied it, then he would have been
        subjected to even more intensive interrogations until
        finally he came round.  Is that not more likely?
   A.   These are German interrogations in the 1950s and, from
        looking through a number of court cases, the notion
        he would have been subjected to ongoing pressures and
        whatever, I see no evidence of that in the Belzec
trial or
        other trials of this sort.
   Q.   Gerstein has however been pretty comprehensively
        discredited as an eyewitness, has he not?
   A.   Gerstein, as I think most would agree, was a very
        traumatized and, they decided, unstable individual,
        what he witnessed, in terms of having been in Belzec,
        he knows the names of several of these people, he gets
        them slightly wrong but close enough, whatever, he
        have come up with those names in his cell in 1945 when
        Allies had absolutely no knowledge of the names of the
        personnel in these camps.  How could he have known
        there were Galetian transports in August?  This was
        knowledge in 1945.  He knows a number of things that
        not have been known if he had not been there.  In that
        case, in those areas, I think one can say that this is
        witness that is telling what he saw, even if it is in
        highly excited and exaggerated mode.
   Q.   So his visit is plausible but one is entitled to
        disbelieve large parts of what he claims to have seen?

.          P-176

   A.   If this was the only witness for all of Operation
        Reinhardt, we would say that this is a very contested
        one.  What he did say in fact, there is very good
        plausibility in the details of which he tells us about
        some things that he could not have known if he had not
        been there, and in turn it is confirmed by a number of
        other witnesses.
   Q.   Does it not tell us something about the integrity of
        historians who have relied so wholeheartedly on
        and have suppressed the details which you omitted from
        your original report.  I am not pointing a finger at
        Professor, I am just talking about a number of other
        historians.  I am not going to mention any names.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Why does it matter for our purposes, what
        other historians may have made of Gerstein?  I do not
   MR IRVING:  It does not matter at all.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think it really does if one thinks
        about it.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.